I can’t say I didn’t see this coming, but I can say how incredibly sad it makes me.
Jennifer Hepler was a senior writer at Bioware, and over the years has contributed greatly to the Dragon Age series. She was responsible for The Anvil of The Void quest chain – one of the most memorable and beautifully written plotlines in DA:O, and nicknamed ‘Queen of the Dwarves’ for the amount of involvement she had in forming their culture and writing their questlines.
Since DA2’s release, Hepler has been harassed semi-constantly by angered – I won’t say fans, they don’t deserve the title – mobs of bigots, mostly male, who unjustly blamed her for the game’s issues because of a six year old interview in which she mentioned, off the cuff, that she wasn’t a big fan of combat in games.
Given that DA2’s combat was modified to appeal to fans of hack & slash action games, and that there was a great deal of it indeed, I really can’t comprehend why they latched onto that quote to explain their hatred.
Hepler wrote some of the most beloved characters in the sequel – Anders, Bethany, and Knight Captain Cullen. While some might not have appreciated the evolution of Ander’s character development, the reaction Hepler received went beyond the pale.
A brilliant writer and a kindhearted, lovely person, Hepler did nothing to deserve the sheer torrent of abuse she has received over the years.
Called every sexist, callous name under the sun, herself and her children made the target of death threats over both the internet and phone, Hepler is an inspiration to us all for the strength she’s displayed.
Jennifer Hepler has explained that her reason for leaving Bioware is not as a direct result of the abuse she’s recieved. In an email to Metro, Hepler stated:
‘I am moving on from BioWare now to pursue other opportunities that let me return to be closer to family in the United States after a wonderful eight years in Canada. I have no intentions to leave the game industry — I love the work that I have done and the reactions from the vast majority of fans and look forward to continuing that work in other venues.’
Whatever the reason for her departure, I am sure that Hepler will be greatly missed at the Edmonton studio, where she has worked for the last eight years. I know for sure that the majority of Dragon Age fans will also be saddened by the news. Let’s hope that wherever she goes from here, she finds the success she deserves.